(The 5th Wave #2)
by Rick Yancey
How do you rid the Earth of seven billion humans? Rid the humans of their humanity.
Surviving the first four waves was nearly impossible. Now Cassie Sullivan finds herself in a new world, a world in which the fundamental trust that binds us together is gone. As the 5th Wave rolls across the landscape, Cassie, Ben, and Ringer are forced to confront the Others’ ultimate goal: the extermination of the human race.
Cassie and her friends haven’t seen the depths to which the Others will sink, nor have the Others seen the heights to which humanity will rise, in the ultimate battle between life and death, hope and despair, love and hate.
My thoughts – spoilers!
The book picks up from where it ended. The stakes are as high as ever, maybe even higher for most characters. I don’t know what will happen in the next book because this one sure as hell made things even more complex and unpredictable. It could go either way and this is thrilling as well as terrifying. Events spiral out of control, and the people involved in this epic conflict lose their shaky feel of the ground. There are some ‘dropped jaw’ moments here, so prepare as best you can. There’s certainly more revealed about the characters themselves and it feels significant that we look back into the past. The groups meshing together makes for some conflict, some touchy situations that are maybe far more revealing than what we’ve seen before.
One must wonder though. What can a small number of teenagers do to pull humanity from the brink of extinction? It’s only in a YA genre that you set aside your reservations and enjoy the ride. And yet you feel there’s a small chance they could disrupt the plans enough for other groups (for surely there are other people who managed to escape) to pull through.
The book is very different from the first one. There’s fewer travelling and an even higher level of psychological drama. The flow of the story feels even slower than the first book, but changing points of view in the first part of the book help to minimise that to an extent. I loved the second part of the book far more and it’s where the author really shines. So, don’t give up on the book too soon.
The book opens with a killer of a chapter then moves on to our ragtag group of child soldiers hunkering down in an abandoned hotel. Other soldiers are coming for sure to wipe them out now they’ve discovered the truth, not to mention more silencers. They can’t stay and they can’t leave and expose themselves. It’s a scenario we all know from movies but the stakes are higher here because we are dealing with emotionally traumatized teenagers and children. The hotel itself is a spooky place full of dead and living rats. It’s an infestation of epic proportions and the teens can’t help but feel like rats themselves when comparing the situation with the Other point of view. Aliens basically consider humans rats infesting their new home.
What ultimately happens made me groan – the members of the group decide to scout ahead, going off one by one, some even without permission. Of course this went south in a matter of moments. You can feel your exasperation mount but you also know they have to do something to get to safety (if there’s something like that). Ringer is the logical choice for a scout – methodical, logical, and ruthless – she is the one with the highest chance for survival. Her assessment of Cassie is spot on and even if you are freaked out by her coldness, Ringer is the best fighter and strategist of the group.
Ringer ends up in the hands of the soldiers and is scheduled to undergo the process that would turn her into a silencer or a supercharged human. It is revealed that there are no aliens inside the minds of the silencers, they are just humans chosen and programmed to think like aliens, thereby triggering the program that enables them fast healing, superhuman strength and limited emotional range. This is a surprise twist that feels like an even bigger betrayal after the first book. We believed Evan is an alien hijacking a human, now it is even worse in a way. You begin to wonder if there are aliens at all, or what else is in store. The process of transformation is gruesome and Ringer is fighting every moment of the way.
Enter new character called Razor. He works at the labs, keeping company with Ringer. They start to play chess and slowly but surely Ringer opens his eyes to the truth. They develop a sort of code to communicate using chess and several desperate plans are hatched. This part of the book is amazing and you’ll love the dynamic, the uncertainty, the mind games, and the brave fighting girl Ringer. She might be my favourite character from this book and Cassie will have to work overtime to gain as many points as Ringer did in this book.
I hoped we’d get to meet the aliens, but all we get is a female silencer, a former friend of Evan’s. Grace is super scary and you can only appreciate Evan’s outlook and humanity more for it. She is the perfect weapon, the relentless soldier fulfilling her orders and more. And as we learn more about Grace we learn more about his past, which is heartbreaking and fascinating at the same time. He is a character that gets the short end of the stick one too many times here. The same can be said about Poundcake.
Ben is struggling to keep the group together while also fighting his fear of Evan. They need Evan because he knows all about the tricks the aliens use (and they are gruesomely effective). Those children they took? You get to see their purpose at the very beginning. It’s gruesome. Cassie almost loses her mind because of it. In fact everyone is more broken than before in this book.
It’s a different book than the first one but that does not mean it is anything less exceptional. This is sci-fi at its finest. 😀
Image source: tumblr, GR